December 17, 2009
The ever-improving Sidecar Bar, a pioneering gastropub in Graduate Hospital, took another step forward this fall with the addition of chef Brian Lofink. Formerly co-chef at Matyson off Rittenhouse Square, Lofink hasn't upscaled Sidecar's inventive bar fare so much as tweaked it with better ingredients. His nachos - usually a dish I dread - were an irresistible example. The gooey jack cheese has been replaced with a genuine Mexican melter - asadero. The salsa, a green tomatillo zinger studded with pineapple, jalapeño, and cilantro, was inspired by Lofink's brief stint with Bobby Flay.
November 3, 2011 |
There's a new team running Xochitl, and executive chef Gabriel Montalvo has created a menu that bridges the Mexican restaurant's two gastropub-like personalities: fine-dining spot and straight-up bar. Take for example his pollo frito , a version of fried chicken that is crunchy, greasless, and worth the $25 tariff. He brines it overnight, then par-cooks it in the steamer, so it stays tender while frying. After weeks of trials, he landed on his ideal, multi-cultural snappy coating: A mixture of all-purpose, corn, potato, and rice flours.
May 28, 2009
There is mystery and magnetism to a cheese that won't melt, but instead turns golden and crispy on the griddle. And I've always been drawn to such grillers, like Cypriot haloumi, brandy-flamed Greek saganaki, or smoked Italian scamorza. My new favorite, though, is queso fresco from El Abuelito, a North Jersey producer making Mexican cheese in the Puebla style. Queso fresco is soft, fresh and salty (which prevents oozing under heat), and comes as a compressed cake of grainy curds that resembles a dry ricotta.
June 4, 2012 |
Just because "Alla Spina" means "from the tap" doesn't mean those taps only stream with beer. At Marc Vetri's new gastropub, there are also plans to start pouring kegged local wines on draft sometime soon. But while the official details are still being ironed out, beverage director Steve Wildy decided to make good use of his Cornelius homebrewer soda kegs to start pouring Negroni cocktails on draft, too. This classic Italian cocktail of Campari, sweet vermouth, and gin (Bluecoat in my house)
June 11, 2009
The big guys are finally catching on that consumers want better-tasting, lower-calorie, higher-fiber alternatives to sandwich bread. Pepperidge Farm offers these 100-calorie flat rolls: good toasted with hummus or grilled for paninis. Available in whole wheat, oatmeal, and seven grain. If you need a beer primer to keep up with the crew at the latest gastropub (and who doesn't in brew-crazy Philly?), turn to a new book from local writer Lynn Hoffman for a tasty draft of advice. The Short Course in Beer (Künati)
March 6, 2008 |
There's a new look at 12th and Sansom Streets these days for Finn McCool's Ale House (118 S. 12th St., 215-940-6506). The Sourias family, which bought the corner shot-and-a-beer and the building several years ago, closed it last summer and gutted it. The Irish-style pub on the first floor, with requisite exposed bricks and woods, has 16 brews on tap. Chef Miguel Leon, formerly of Mixto and Havana, does a moderately priced pub menu from 11 a.m....
January 22, 2009 |
Alison at Blue Bell (721 Skippack Pike, Blue Bell, 215-641- 2660), which shut down in September as chef-owner Alison Barshak devoted her time to building her Alison two in Fort Washington, will reopen Feb. 5. Aside from new paint and carpet, the most noticeable change will be the menu, migrating from contemporary American to Mediterranean, reflecting chef Anthony Bonett's Italian heritage. He'll make his own pasta. The price point will drop, with dishes ranging from $5 to $22. It will serve dinner only on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, offering wine by the glass and beer by the bottle.
October 6, 2011
* If you live to cook as well as eat, you'll thrill at the arrival in bookstores this month of The Cook's Illustrated Cookbook , a feast of 2,000 "greatest hits" recipes meticulously tested and tenderly illuminated with photos and drawings for publication in that foodie's delight, Cook's Illustrated magazine. The hefty tome - well worth its $40 price but already discounted online - also skims the best of the magazine's advice on foolproofing culinary tasks. A must-have for every cook.